The Congress’s gameplan to use Cambridge Analytica has fallen flat, but its devious designs to divide the society have continued unabated
In a historic judgment the The market research traditionally has used demographic and psychographic data. Demographic is quantitative data about the age, gender, income etc. of the people. Psychographics is qualitative data about the psychological attributes of a population like personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests etc. It is often called lifestyle research.
Psychographics is important because two people with the same income can have different views and behave differently. The drawback with psychographic data till now is that it is not hundred percent accurate. An individual if asked a lifestyle question can reply with a more socially acceptable answer or an answer which makes him look trendy, while in real life he might behave very differently.
Michal Kosinski at the Psychometrics Centre of Cambridge University developed a profiling system using general online data, like Facebook-likes, and smartphone data. He showed that with “likes” on Facebook, an individual can be analysed better and there true preferences can be identified accurately. Further research has shown that an individual’s preference can be influenced and changed by Facebook and other social media.
Cambridge Analytica (CA) is a British political consulting firm which combines data mining, data brokerage, and data analysis with strategic communication for the electoral process. It was started in 2013 as an offshoot of the SCL Group.
Cambridge Analytica (SCL USA) was founded by conservatives Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer in January 2015 and it used data derived from millions of Facebook users, largely without users’ permission or knowledge. The SCL Group identifies itself as a “global election management agency”.
Christopher Wylie, a former employee of Cambridge Analytica (CA), turned whistleblower and deposed before the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee on March 27, 2018. He submitted “They (CA) worked extensively in India. They have an office in India. I believe their client was Congress, but I know that they have done all kinds of projects. I don’t remember a national project but I know regionally. India’s so big that one state can be as big as Britain. But they do have offices there; they do have staff there.”
Christopher Wylie responded to the question “When you look at Facebook’s biggest market, India is the top in terms of number of users. Obviously, that’s a country which is rife with political discord and opportunities for destabilisation,” said Labour MP Paul Farrelly, member of the parliamentary committee, during his questioning.”
Before Christopher Wylie mentioned that CA worked for the Congress party in a state election, in a report on 9 October 2017, titled ‘This is the Brahmastra Rahul Gandhi will hurl at PM Modi’, the Economic Times reported: “Has the Congress found the Brahmastra for the next general elections? Perhaps it has, if one goes by a report in Navbharat Times that Congress was in touch with Big Data firm Cambridge Analytica that helped US President Donald Trump win last year”.
It is widely believed that 2017 Gujarat State election was managed by CA. There is merit in the belief. The world noticed that Congress party used two different type of language in the election campaign. One abusive, like the tweets of Manish Tiwari, Digvijay Singh and the other non-abusive like ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’ to criticise ‘Goods and Services Tax’ based on the philosophy of one nation one tax.
Apart from the language the divisive politics played by Congress in terms of caste wars in Gujarat election was unparalleled and had an imprint of CA.
Impact on India
In order to win election the Congress can go to any extent. Impact of Russian spy agency KGB on the Congress well documented. The Congress is master of divisive politics. It played lead role in dividing the country in the name of religion, followed it by creating Bhindrawale in Punjab, 1984 attempted genocide of Sikhs and the ULFA in Assam just to name a few examples. With increasing literacy and social media, the Congress is not able to divide Indians and hence has been losing elections after elections since 2014.
With Trump's victory who, used services of CA and the reports that CA also influenced the Brexit vote, the impression that Congress party got was that, “Trump, who was initially dismissed as a frivolous candidate, could win by targeting the right voter segments with right messages, so can Rahul Gandhi.” And for the Congress party it is perfectly fine to divide people to win elections. They have a tradition of it, as mentioned above. Hence suddenly across India there is a rise is caste-based conflict, all in some form or the other supported by the Congress party. The Congress party and its leaders are regularly seen with “Bharat Tere Tukde Honge” and “Afzal Guru Tere Katil Zinda Hain Hum Sharminda Hain” gang.
Impact of CA on Congress election campaign is visible in Karnataka also. The Hindus after being split as Tribals, Dalits are being further divided into different religion. In Gujarat elections Congress played the caste card, while in Karnataka it has taken a step ahead and is playing the religious card. Lingayats on the whims and fancies of the Congress government have been declared non-Hindu. Tipu Sultan who butchered millions for not converting to Islam is called a secular leader by Rahul Gandhi to pander to vote bank.
The question is no more about the connection of Indian National Congress with CA. The point to ponder is the statement of Labour MP Paul Farrelly about India: “that’s a country which is rife with political discord and opportunities for destabilisation”.
CA can manufacture victimhood in different groups by using social media. The recent trends in India are caste wars, farmers’ agitations only in the BJP-ruled states, call for Dravidnadu, anti-Hindi protests, revolt by Supreme court judges, saying Ram is not worshipped by Bengalis, student and professors not wanting attendance to be recorded in colleges, manufactured attack on Church and Muslims under threat (and still none leave India, on the contrary scores of them keep pouring in from Bangladesh) just to name a few. In all of these manufactured problems, social media has played a big role.
From last few years, Indian defence has become subject of politics by opposition parties with Congress being in the lead. Its leaders have used all kind of slangs for Indian defence forces and its chief. All this is an organised attempt to destabilise India and role of CA and Congress party needs to be investigated.
(The writer is a Political Analyst and founder www.swastik.net.in )